Nobel laureate resigns from DR Congo's anti-Covid-19 team

Thursday June 11 2020

Dr Denis Mukwege, founder of Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in Washington, DC February 25, 2014. He has quit a special commission for fighting Covid-19 in South Kivu, citing lack of facilitation from the government. PHOTO | GETTY IMAGES | AFP



A famed Congolese medic who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 has resigned from the country’s team formed to fight Covid-19.

Dr Denis Mukwege said he was quitting a special Commission for fighting Covid-19 in South Kivu, citing lack of facilitation from the government.

In a resignation note publicised on Wednesday, Dr Mukwege said the lack of laboratories for testing for the virus had frustrated the team’s work.

The team had been waiting for more than two weeks to receive results of samples sent to the national biomedical research institute in Kinshasa, he said, which “constituted a major handicap for our strategy.”

“On the other hand, a loosening of prevention measures by our population, a denial of reality, the impossibility of enforcing restrictions, the porosity of our borders with the massive return of thousands of compatriots from neighbouring countries without having been quarantined, have decreased the effectiveness of our strategy.”


His resignation from the special Health Commission could strike a blow to the entire national response team led by Dr Jean-Jacques Muyembe, another famed medical researcher in the Congo.

However, Dr Mukwege said he would continue to give his “intellectual contribution in the fight against the pandemic in the province of South Kivu.”

Dr Mukwege earned a Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 alongside Iraqi Yazidi activist Nadia Murad for campaigns against sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.

In the DRC, Dr Mukwege is famed for his surgeries to repair damage inflicted on sexually violated women during the Congolese civil war.

The Democratic Republic of Congo by Wednesday had recorded 96 deaths due to the coronavirus. The country has also recorded 4,390 positive cases and 565 recoveries according to the Health ministry.